The nondiscrimination statement ...
Published: Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
Fr. Leahy explains University stance
Dear Members of the Boston College Community: Much discussion has taken place in recent weeks on campus concerning BC's nondiscrimination statement, particularly the absence of the words "sexual orientation." I write to describe context that I hope will help guide conversations about the topic.
First, a university should be a place characterized by dialogue and mutual respect, despite differences.
Second, as a Jesuit Catholic institution, BC insists that all people, no matter their background, beliefs, or actions, are made in the image and likeness of God. Our religious and intellectual heritage requires that we be an inclusive, welcoming community. Certainly no one should be harassed or abused because of their sexual orientation. Our discriminatory harassment policy states explicitly that behavior targeting individuals because of their sexual orientation will not be tolerated, and our institutional actions reflect that policy.
I realize that some in our community believe that BC should include "sexual orientation" in its nondiscrimination clause. However, adding the words "sexual orientation" could result in outside authorities interpreting the nondiscrimination clause in ways that would require BC to approve and fund initiatives or activities that conflict with its institutional commitments. As president of BC, I have the obligation to safeguard the University from such intrusion.
I know that some do not agree with the University's position regarding the nondiscrimination clause, and I regret that. But I hope we can continue to engage in dialogue about ways in which we can underscore our basic commitment to the dignity of every member of the BC community.
To that end, I have asked Joe Herlihy, our general counsel, to meet with a group of the Undergraduate Government of BC leaders to discuss how our policy of nondiscrimination can be made more welcoming and affirming, while safeguarding the University's freedom to remain faithful to its religious identity and mission. I hope that these discussions will advance the dialogue on this important issue and reassert that BC is a community that holds tolerance and mutual respect for all people as a guiding principle.
Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J. University President
The students speak To the Editor:
On Feb. 28 and March 1, nearly 84 percent of undergraduate voters and over 200 faculty members said in a referendum that the University should adopt a policy against discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. "If they [BC students] understood the complexity of the issues, we're confident they would have voted differently," Jack Dunn, University spokesman, states in a March 2 Associated Press article. The clause we supported does not state that Boston College will endorse homosexuality (as was implied by a student in the article), only that the administration will not discriminate in the hiring process based on applicants' sexual preference. The facts could not be simpler, and I am confident that the students of BC understand both the complexity of this issue and the excuses provided publicly by the administration. This school is only sacrificing the respect of other institutions and potential students by not agreeing to a small step forward in the protection of basic rights.
Eric MacDonald A&S '06
To the Editor:
I am writing to express my appreciation for the voting results about explicitly forbidding discrimination based upon sexual orientation at Boston College. While a student at BC, I found many students and staff members to be extremely open-minded and inclusive people.
In the 1990s, the University's administration seemed to hide behind the excuse of "Catholic tradition" when it rejected attempts by students to obtain official recognition for groups supportive of non-heterosexual community members.
I hope that the current administration is able to do a better job of embracing the reality that gay and lesbian members of the BC community are worthy of full respect.
The Catholic Church has apologized for various wrongs it has committed over the course of its history. It is past time for University leaders to show that they are able to match their words about "Jesuit ideals."
BC should be at the fore of promoting social justice for gay people, not trying to avoid state laws that "exempt" the University from doing what is right.
Austin Naughton BC '95 and '99